Baking for the Front Line

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Pearl Operations Assistant is Baking Up a Storm for Healthcare Workers

Pearl Media 042020

(Montclair, New Jersey) If you ask Pearl Media’s Melissa Levinson what she likes to do most outside of work, she’d probably answer: creating artistic DIY projects or spending quality time with her Grandfather.  And why not? In her role as Operations Assistant, she handles landlord approvals, permit submissions, tracks and manages the database for postings, and helps run our social media.

Clearly, Melissa has a lot on her plate. Just don’t ask her to cook. “I can’t cook. I burn water,” she’s fond of telling anyone who asks. And yet while working on the top of the stove is not on the menu, putting the oven to good use is another thing all together. “I love baking, at one point I wanted to be a pastry chef. That was my dream career.”

Usually she brings her baked goods to the office but during the COVID-19 crisis she’s been baking to feed healthcare workers on the front lines in New Jersey.  “My stepsister is a nursing student at County College of Morris, and she told me how her fellow CNAs were working crazy hours. When they weren’t working, they were sleeping.”  When Melissa asked how they were eating, she learned that they couldn’t go to the cafeteria because they weren’t allowed to leave the COVID floor during their shifts. “So, I had her reach out to her friends to see If I could bake some goodies for them.” The answer was a resounding yes.

For the past several weeks, Melissa has been baking up a storm and donating treats to Morristown Medical Center and the West Orange Police Station, all while continuing to WFH. Each item is individually wrapped for safety to ensure freshness.  At first, she was baking almost every day but became inundated with orders for her goods, especially her chocolate chip cookies, a recipe for which she readily admits she obsesses over. “When you bite into one of my chocolate chip cookies, I want you to get a chip or two or three every time!”  What’s her specialty? That depends on who you ask. “My little cousins LOVE my S’ mores bars. My mom likes my scones. My dad, stepmom, and stepsister love my Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake and my stepbrothers love my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.”

“You can always count on Melissa to brighten up the office with some homemade treats,” said Anthony Petrillo, Chief Revenue Officer at Pearl Media and unofficial taste tester. “It’s a wonderful testament to her character to see her bringing those tasty snacks to the good people on the front lines risking everything to keep us safe.”

Melissa’s volunteerism streak is nothing new. For the past three years she’s been a volunteer for the Samuel D.J. Cali Foundation, where she helps run all the events including the annual golf fundraiser.  “Melissa may be small in stature, but her heart is big enough to fill the room.  Always thinking of others, and obsessed with baked goods,” said Jen Almeida, Chief Operating Officer at Pearl Media. “I think it’s great how she found a way to pair the two in order to help others!  I’m extremely proud to know a member of my team is doing what she can to spread kindness in this dark time.”

Melissa doesn’t plan on shutting down her home bakery anytime soon. Her favorite phrase around the office during crunch time is “Keep on swimming!” We’re sure the health care workers and first responders who’ve come to rely on her assortment of goods would change that to “Keep on baking!”

Our compliments to the baker!

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